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Student launches drive to end 'period poverty'

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The women involved with We BLead Bermuda from left: Kennette Robinson, the acting director of the Department of Child and Family Services, Tylasha DeSilva, the founder of We BLead Bermuda, Elaine Butterfield, the executive director of the Women’s Resource Centre, and Cheryl Minors, the executive assistant director of the WRC (Photograph by Sekou Hendrickson)

A pioneering project to end “period poverty” for women and girls was launched yesterday as part of International Women’s Day.

Tylasha DeSilva, a student at Bermuda College, unveiled the We BLead Bermuda project to give feminine hygiene products to women and girls with financial problems.

The project, scheduled to launch in about two weeks, also was designed to break down the stigma attached to periods.

Ms DeSilva, 19, said: “Because the topic is so taboo we don’t have a lot of information on who specifically is suffering from period poverty and because of that I feel like We BLead is important.

“Because we’re using the Women’s Resource Centre and The Family Centre, it gives the women who might be ashamed of not being able to afford these products the opportunity to get them in confidentiality.”

Ms DeSilva said that many women and girls struggled to afford feminine products and had to sacrifice hygiene for food or other bills.

She highlighted that the lowest price for feminine hygiene products was $7.40 and that was likely to increase because of the high cost of living.

Ms DeSilva added that homeless women and households with more than three females were the hardest hit by period poverty.

The One Bermuda Alliance also launched a salute to International Women’s Day, including a statement by Cole Simons, the Leader of the Opposition.

A link to the OBA’s message can be found here.

She said: “When it comes to families where there are more than one three girls in the home, their main focus would be on school products, school clothes or groceries and things like that.”

Ms DeSilva said that it was important to have open discussions on women’s health so that charities could better understand the scale of demand.

She added that women and girls would find it easier to seek help if the subject was less taboo.

Ms DeSilva said: “Having a period is not a luxury – it is something that most women must deal with for over 40 years of their lives.

“We want to make life easier for the women around Bermuda who cannot afford these products every month.”

We BLead is expected to launch in the next two weeks after a bank account to take donations was finalised and drop-off locations for hygiene products were set up.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day was “Choose to Challenge”, which encouraged women and girls to address gender inequality and commit change for the better.

Tinée Furbert, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors, used International Women’s Day to highlight the achievements made by Bermudian women over the years.

Ms Furbert, speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday, highlighted Rena Lalgie’s landmark achievement as the first woman and the first Black person to become Governor.

She also honoured women who played a part in Bermudian politics, as well as other “trailblazers” such as Paralympian Jessica Lewis, a Paralympian and Gladys Misick Morrell, who battled for the vote for women.

Ms Furbert said: “No matter what barriers these women faced, they all endeavoured to make a change to the status quo.

“As I speak of their achievements and reflect on the celebration of International Women’s Day, it is important for me to acknowledge that much work remains to be done to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women within our community.”

Ms Furbert added that $100,000 from her ministry’s budget had been earmarked to help the Women’s Resource Centre and $150,000 was destined to support the Centre Against Abuse.

She said that legislation would come into force on June 1 to make sure employers had a “clear and written policy statement” against workplace bullying and sexual harassment.

The Progressive Labour Party highlighted its “long history of strong women in leadership roles” and thanked those who had supported the party in the past and the present.

A PLP spokeswoman said: “History reflects that women not only belong in the political arena, but thrive here.

“The Bermuda Progressive Labour Party looks forward to honouring, nurturing, supporting, elevating and celebrating the current and next generation of phenomenal female leaders.”

Commissioner of Police Steven Corbishley added: “While International Women’s day is a celebration, I also consider it should be a reminder to shine a light on women, young and old, that are prevented from leading a life that is safe but instead find themselves vulnerable from issues of abuse or exploitation.”

The Bermuda Public Service Union’s Women’s Committee celebrated International Women’s Day with a virtual conference held over Zoom.

The conference included speeches from Renee Ming, the Minister of National Security, and Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health.

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Published March 09, 2021 at 8:36 am (Updated March 09, 2021 at 8:36 am)

Student launches drive to end 'period poverty'

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